Beltway Boomtown, Professional Lobbying Explodes

From The Hill comes yet another reason why constitutionally limited government is so important – prevention of the professional lobbying class:

ObamaCare has become big business for an elite network of Washington lobbyists and consultants who helped shape the law from the inside.

More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K Street since 2010.

The reason for these new lobbyists is simple (emphasis added):

Veterans of the healthcare push are now lobbying for corporate giants such as Delta Airlines, UPS, BP America and Coca-Cola, and for healthcare companies including GlaxoSmithKline, UnitedHealth Group and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Ultimately, the clients are after one thing: expert help in dealing with the most sweeping overhaul of the country’s healthcare system in decades.

“Healthcare lobbying on K Street is as strong as it ever was, and it’s due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act seems to be ever-changing,” Adler said. “What’s at stake is huge. … Whenever there’s a lot of money at stake, there’s a lot of lobbying going on.”

The voracious need for lobbying help in dealing with ObamaCare has created a price premium for lobbyists who had first-hand experience in crafting or debating the law.

The implications of this lobbyist growth are numerous. Here are several:

First, big government creates opportunities for modest-paid public employees to turn inside information into much larger incomes through lobbying.. The bigger government gets, the larger the opportunity is to profit from taxpayer funded programs.

Second, only those with money can afford “expert help” in navigating laws like Obamacare. Average Joe and Jane American are at a significant disadvantage in navigating, getting around, or changing parts of Obamacare.

Third, rather than put resources into expansion and innovation, businesses spend money on lobbyists. As one lobbyist put it recently in Huffington Post:

So, when I see, you know, us kind of sitting up here like in an ivory tower, pretending like we’re going to fix the free-market system, I just shake my head, ’cause I think my clients hire guys like me to help them and navigate the most complex and intricate web of b.s. in the world. And I can make their lives more efficient, ’cause I can get on the phone with you in a heartbeat. And I can call guys like Tony. We can advise them to advertise in certain publications or not. And who are we to judge? I guess that’s the only thing I would say. How dare we sit up here and judge them when all they’re trying to do is live up to the promise to their shareholders to create profits and jobs and sell products, and we’re just getting in their way.

In other words, big government is hobbling economic growth because it diverts resources into lobbying instead of economically productive activities.

It’s not about Republicans and Democrats, or even about conservatives or liberals. Concentrated power is a bad idea in any hands and reapplying constitutional principles can solve this problem for all Americans who don’t profit from power.